I was never the child who said she wanted to be a princess or an astronaut growing up, but instead, I told people I wanted to be an author. I always liked to read and write short stories, but I slowly forgot about my dream as I grew older. Shortly after my great-grandma passed away in late 2014, I decided to write a children’s book based on my personal experiences with her. Grammy and Me⎯written and illustrated by myself⎯captures the beautiful relationship between grandparent and grandchild. I wrote this story because I wanted to highlight the things I thought were missing from most children’s books today, hoping that they will benefit everyone who reads it.
Grammy and Me reinforces the importance of family values. A family unit supports children in limitless ways, teaching them about the world, history, and self-awareness. As I look around in public places, I see kids with their parents. The little ones usually have some sort of electronic device in hand, and the parents are having their own conversations. I’m all for technology because you can learn a lot from it, but by actually talking and spending time with children during their early years, families play a vital role in making sure their kids thrive and live their lives positively. My great-grandmother and I did countless amounts of activities together; shopping, dining, cooking – I could go on. The list of things I learned from her is almost endless.
Grammy and Me highlights diversity in children’s literature. Kids are not being exposed to true representation in their books. Why was it that in 2015 85.8% of children’s books were about white or non-human characters? This isn’t an accurate depiction of what the world is like. Children need diverse books, so that they grow up seeing themselves represented in the stories they read. The characters in my book are African-American. The first time I heard a little girl say “she has the same hair as me!” while pointing to my book, was priceless. I didn’t have books with characters that looked like me when I was a child, so I’m grateful that I can provide this for other kids.
Lastly, I hope that Grammy and Me can inspire anyone who is experiencing self-doubt to go for what they want to achieve! I was a full-time college student trying to get good grades, work, have a social life, AND was writing a children’s book all at once. The self-doubt I had was unimaginable. I often told myself I couldn’t do it. Not to mention how many times I thought my writing and illustrations wouldn’t stand a chance against competing books. But I went for it. I pushed myself and I re-drafted and re-drew until I thought I had succeeded. Before I knew it, I was a published author and selling books.
I wrote this story to make a change; to portray things that most children’s books don’t, all pertaining to kindness, which flows throughout the pages. One fellow Channel Kindness reporter once said, “There’s kindness everywhere, you just have to know where to look!” I love this statement because it’s so true! Kindness can be found anywhere, even on the shelves of the library. I am hopeful that the children and parents who read Grammy and Me will benefit from it, and possibly will discover more reasons on how the story promotes a kinder world beyond mine.